Bakuman Vol. 13 by Tsugumi Ohba (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

August 22, 2012 by  

Fun, captivating and highly recommended!  Could this be the end of Muto Ashirogi?  Takagi is now working on another manga series with Shiratori, while Mashiro is focused on creating a manga series by himself that can be made into an anime series. With a strained relationship, can Mashiro and Takagi continue to work as a mangaka duo? Find out in volume 13 of “Bakuman”!

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© 2008 by Tsugumi Ohba, Takeshi Obata. All Rights Reserved.

MANGA TITLE: Bakuman vol. 13 (バクマン)


WRITTEN BY: Tsugumi Ohba (大場 つぐみ)

ILLUSTRATED BY: Takeshi Obata (小畑 健)



RATED: T for Older Teen

RELEASE DATE: August 7, 2012

With their new series Perfect Crime Party doing well in Weekly Shonen Jump, Moritaka and Akito sets their sights on beating their rivals in the magazine. But just as their dreams seem within reach, some surprising news will deal them an unexpected setback.

With Akito Takagi currently working on the manga series “PCP” and now working on the manga series “LoveTa”, Moritaka Mashiro has decided that in order to get a series made into an anime series (a promise that he and his girlfriend Miho Azuki have made that they will get married if he is able to get his manga series made into an anime) is if he does it himself… without Takagi.  With Mashiro focusing on writing and drawing a one-shot relationship manga, Takagi working on another series… will this be the end of their collaborative writing/artist team, Muto Ashirogi?

Find out in volume 13 of the hit manga series “Bakuman”!

What is “Bakuman”?

For writer Tsugumi Ohba and illustrator Takeshi Obata (“Hikaru no Go”, “Blue Dragon”, “Castlevania Judgment”), both are known for their collaboration and their work on the popular series “Death Note”.

While Obata is known to collaborate with other writers, after the success of “Death Note”, it’s no surprise that many fans have wanted to see these two together. Having worked on “Death Note” from 2003-2006, the two have returned with a more upbeat storyline titled “Bakuman”…which is a play on the word “bakuhatsu” (explosion) and “baku” (a mythological animal that eats dreams).

With a total of 20 volumes having been published in Japan and a 25-episode anime series that aired in 2009, needless to say, both Ohba and Obata have once again achieved success with their second project together since “Death Note”.

“Bakuman” revolves around two teenagers. Moritaka Mashiro is a junior high student who has a crush on his classmate Miho Azuki. One day, his classmate Akito Takagi tries to persuade Mashiro to become a mangaka (a manga artist) while Takagi writes. But Mashiro is not so interested as his uncle used to be a manga artist and died from overwork because he tried to get back into the industry and regain his top status as a mangaka.

As for Takagi, he is an intelligent student who prefers to write manga than focus on school. Takagi really wants to write a manga but hopes Mashiro can illustrate.

But Mashiro is also a bit tense about being involved with Takagi because he thinks that he is in love with Miho, but in truth, Takagi was doing all he can to bring Mashiro and Azuki together. Mashiro proposes to Azuki and she accepts…but with one condition, they will marry once they achieve their dreams, he as a successful mangaka and she as a voice actress. But for now, the two can’t see each other or communicate until they make their dreams come true.

So, knowing this… Mashiro will do all he can to illustrate a manga with Takagi and become a professional mangaka as soon as possible.

As both young men have proved that they can become a fantastic writing/illustration manga duo, the problem is that they have had two manga series and both which were cancelled.

As the two learn about the challenges of having a manga series and the popularity of polling and popularity, it’s a new year and now both Takagi and Mashiro have one more chance. A chance to prove that they deserve to have a manga series, but most importantly, a series that can also become an anime series, with hopes that Mashiro’s girlfriend Azuki will become a voice actress for the series. But before Mashiro and Azuki can be together, they must make their dreams come true!

Meanwhile, good news has come to both Mashiro and Takagi as they have been given the opportunity for PCP to become a light novel series and also have a drama CD release! This is great news for Mashiro as this will give his girlfriend Miho Azuki (who has no idea that Muto Ashirogi is Mashiro and Takagi) a chance to be a voice actress.

But when they find out from Hattori that because their manga series may lead to children imitating some of actions from their manga series, a chance for an anime series is nil!

And for Mashiro, having an anime series where Miho could become a voice actress is quite important as that is the only way the two can officially be together as a couple.

And to add another storyline to this latest volume, what happens when “PCP” assistant artist Shun Shiratori’s “Loveta & Peace” manga work catches the eye of both Mashiro and Takagi and Hattori wants to make it an official Shonen Jump manga series?

With Eiji Nizuma already having two series for “Shonen Jump” and Takagi writing for both “PCP” and Shiratori’s “Loveta & Peace”, what happens when Mashiro decides he wants to write and draw a new manga (that can become an anime series) by himself? With all the work that the two are putting in, will it lead to a decrease in quality for “PCP”?

What is going on in Volume 13?

Takagi has now broken off away from Mashiro.  In fact, he has not returned home and has been staying with Shiratori and working on “LoveTa”.  This becomes worrisome for Kaya Takagi, who hasn’t seen her husband and desperately wants Mashiro and her best friend Miho Azuki to get married.

But with Takagi gone and Mashiro so focused on creating a manga by himself, can this be the end of Muto Ashirogi?

And to make things interesting, with word spreading among the Shonen Jump mangaka that Mashiro is creating a one-shot romance manga, every young mangaka decides that they want to do one as well, which leads to Shonen Jump doing a small contest of who can write the best relationship manga one-shot.

But the problem is that a lot of these mangaka have only watched or read about romance, will they be able to write or create a manga when many have not had much experience with romance or dating?

Meanwhile, Shuichi Moriya tries to get the courage to ask fellow mangaka Ko Aoki for a date, but can he do it?

“Bakuman” Vol. 13 is one of those storylines that was bound to happen and that is to test the friendship and relationship of manga duo Moritaka Mashiro and Akito Takagi.

Every business relationship is tested and in this case, Akito Takagi now having to write for Shun Shiratori’s “LoveTa” manga.  And the fact that “LoveTa” is doing so well, it begins to unnerve Mashiro who wants to make sure that the duo of Muto Ashirogi continues to go strong and together they can continue to work on their series PCP.

Problem is, Takagi has eliminated contact with Mashiro and even gone on meetings separately without him.

This obvious puts strain on Akit’s wife Kaya but also is a concern for Mashiro.  Mashiro is a great artist but an he write?  But for Mashiro, his primary drive is to have an anime series created because he and Miho can finally get married. So far, mangaka duo Muto Ashirogi have accomplished big things together except having an anime series.

And when it becomes an obsession for Mashiro, will it damage his relationship with Takagi?

Meanwhile, we get to see an interesting take as all mangaka jump in the bandwagon to create a relationship manga.  It’s a very interesting premise, but also funny because these manga writers or illustrators are so busy, that they have not had relationships on their own and not sure where to pull their ideas from.  How they do it, is quite interesting.

And outside of Mashiro and Takagi, we get this fun storyline involving Shuichi Moriya now getting the courage to ask Ko Aoki for a date.  But can he make it happen?

When it comes to a series that shows the lifestyle, the business within the manga industry and the competition that exists among other mangaka’s, “Bakuman” is a series that does it with amazing efficacy.

Typically when we read a comic book in America, we know the business focuses on how much a copy receives pre-orders and how the sales are. In Japan, most manga chapters are featured in manga or magazine publications and one’s duration typically is narrowed down to polling. Readers rank each manga storyline and publisher’s analyze the numbers, the age groups and the editors are responsible for their own manga creative groups and ensuring that changes are being made if their ranking slips that certain week.

“Bakuman” also shows us how difficult the life is for a manga creator. From meeting deadlines but how a personal life can easily change when your competition pushes you lower in the rankings, your manga series is your livelihood, but what happens when your series is cut short?

This is what we have learned through this series as both characters Akito Takagi and Moritaka Mashiro have seen two of their creations canceled. There lives have been altered but while Akito has found a supportive girlfriend now wife, named Kaya, Mashiro on the other hand, has stuck to his promise and goal with Miho Azuki that the two will pursue a relationship if she becomes a voice actress and he has a successful, continuing manga series.

Tsugumi Ohba has done a wonderful job in creating layers of detail amongst the primary characters. He includes so much detail in making us feel that the two students are doing all they can to become mangaka. And I have to admit, I’m a speed reader when it comes to manga but this is one of the first titles where I had to read not all at once but at different moments in time because there is so much packed into each chapter dialogue wise.

Ohba was very meticulous in making us learn about Takagi and Mashiro and also showing us the process of the manga world. And once again, the collaboration with Takeshi Obata has proven to be another grand slam for Ohba as Obata also compliments Ohba’s detailed writing with detailed and beautiful artwork. From the line art to the patterns on Takagi’s shirt, Ohba did a fabulous job in capturing the feeling of youth in this manga series.

But of course, the biggest plus for me was getting some insight on the manga world. It’s one thing to read manga but for those of us living outside of Japan, rarely do we get to see how things are done in Japan and how difficult or challenging it is for one to break into the industry. And we get to see things first hand of how it works through Takagi and Mashiro. And how both Obata and Ohba manage to make the business side of manga entertaining and balancing it with a youthful storyline.

If you are looking for a fun, captivating manga series… “Bakuman” is highly recommended!

If you are interested in the manga industry, a fan of Obata and Ohba’s work or someone who just loves manga and wants something unique and captivating, I highly recommend “Bakuman” vol. 13.

Definitely recommended!

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